J. Ron Byler named MCC U.S. transitional executive director
June 9, 2010
AKRON, Pa. – The board of directors of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. has named J. Ron Byler as the organization’s transitional executive director. He succeeds Rolando Santiago, who has resigned as of August 2010 when his six-year term is complete.
For the next three years, Byler, of Goshen, Ind., will lead MCC U.S. while a long-term executive director is sought. He will be instrumental in guiding MCC U.S. through New Wineskins, an MCC-wide restructuring process.
In addition, Byler will oversee all MCC programs in the United States. He will coordinate four regional offices, as well as the Washington Office and the Akron-based national peace and justice staff. He will continue the priority of working closely with the supporting church denominations of MCC U.S.
The Rev. Leonard Dow, chair of the transitional leadership search committee and vice-chair of the MCC U.S. board, identified Byler’s faith commitment and lifelong understanding of Anabaptist values as foundational to Byler’s selection. He also noted Byler’s experience with organizational change.
“Transition is very much a way that God has gifted Ron,” said Dow. “Ron is sensitive to the dynamics of change, to the stress that accompanies it, while moving forward. ‘Courage’ is a word that was used when people spoke of Ron. In the midst of transition, we need to have courage in order to move forward.”
Dow also noted Byler’s familiarity with MCC’s complex organizational system, and his ability therefore to “hit the ground running” in his new role. Byler has been a board member of MCC U.S. since 2006, serving as treasurer for the past year.
During the past 13 years, Byler worked in leadership roles in Mennonite Church USA and one of its predecessors. Most recently, he was interim executive director for Mennonite Church USA. Earlier vocational experience includes stints with Mennonite Media Ministries and American Friends Service Committee.
Byler said that he was drawn to this role by the opportunity to help shape MCC at an important point in its history. He looks forward to collaborating with MCC Canada and the overall organization in providing “seamless oversight” to domestic and international programs.
“One of the things I value the most about MCC is our commitment to build bridges and connect people across their cultural, political and economic differences,” he said. “And I'm pleased that we respond to immediate needs, but we also work to address the root causes of injustice in this country and around the world.
“MCC is one of the few places where we come together as Mennonites, Brethren in Christ and Amish, regardless of our sometimes differing beliefs, to help others in the name of Christ. When we work together, we are a symbol of God’s intentions for the church and for all of God’s people.”
Born in Lancaster, Pa., Byler graduated with a bachelor of arts in communications from Messiah College, Grantham, Pa. He holds a master of arts in communications from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., and a master of arts in religion from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary), Wynnewood, Pa.
“We are deeply grateful that Ron is available for this key role in the MCC system,” said Ann Graber Hershberger, MCC U.S. board chair. “We are drawn to his love of the church and its mission, his careful approach to issues and his courage in leading change.”
Byler is a member of Eighth Street Mennonite Church in Goshen. He is married to Mim Shirk. They have one adult son, Jesse. Byler will begin his new position in July, allowing for some time of overlap with Santiago. He will continue to live in Goshen.